Category Archives: Uncategorized

Anna Bocci West

Anna Bocci West is a Los Angeles mom to two children. She will be performing in our upcoming LA show next month.

It hasn’t been easy to stay creative since becoming a mom.  So much of my life is dominated by my kids’ lives and schedules that when I do have free time, I rarely feel very creative.  But I’ve learned that I can’t ignore that part of myself.  As much as I adore my kids, they don’t fulfill that part of me. And without it, I’m not my best self.

I am an actress, which you would think is a very creatively fulfilling line of work.  But the truth is, since having kids, most of my work has been in television commercials. It’s a great job with good pay and a lot of free time.  So perfect “mom job”, right?  But creatively fulfilling? Not exactly.  It’s usually a one or two-day shoot where we stick to the copy and do our best to sell someone’s product.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I wrote, produced and starred in a short film which we took on the film festival circuit, receiving various awards for our work. I was so happy to be creating my own story and to be in charge of the outcome for once.

It really stuck with me that I need to take more control of the free time that I do have, and to create opportunities for myself that satisfy me creatively.  So I’m trying to do more of that.

About a year ago, I decided to begin exploring my passion for Interior Design.  I’ve done some residential jobs and some “television designing”, which has been really fun.

In order to figure out how seriously I want to take it, I’ve started taking classes at Otis School of Design. I don’t know if I can juggle both careers, and I’m not willing to give up acting just yet. But regardless, I’m focusing on a different part of my creative self six hours a week (usually at night or on Sunday afternoons), and that feels good. I’m even learning to draw!  No more stick figures when I’m drawing with my kids. 🙂

So that’s me.

80% Anna West, mother of Owen and Winslow.

20% Anna Bocci, creative chick who’s just looking for an outlet.

I feel very lucky.  🙂

Susan Sheu

Below is our first creative mom that we will be featuring, the first of many we hope! Susan Sheu has performed in our show here in LA before and will be again this Fall. She’s a mother to two children.  

When my first child was two years old, I took a weekend writing workshop with a Famous Writer.  My father had died several years earlier, and trying to process the grief gave rise to the germ of a family memoir.  I’d been writing on and off since before my daughter was born, although not in a systematic way, just bursts of memories I recorded while stealing time away from my real job (as a graduate student in public health).

But ever since my daughter was born, the desire to write a book burned brighter than ever.  Having given birth to a new generation, I discovered that being a parent gave me new insight into the story I had been trying to write about my parents.  When I wasn’t too tired, I’d write in short, intense bursts in the middle of the night, inspired by something that had occurred to me during the day while schlepping my daughter around to the park and Mommy and Me classes.  It was the best I could do at the time, and what flowed from my brain through my fingertips into the computer felt true and raw and necessary.

In the writers workshop the Famous Writer held up my densely packed personal essay after my fellow writers had read it and said,

“This is what happens when you don’t allow yourself to write very often.”

I was caught off-guard, but I didn’t take offense.  I could tell by her substantive critiques that she viewed what I’d written as decent material.  She meant not only that I would need to carve out more time to write but also that there is no shortcut to a fully formed piece of writing or any piece of art.

My daughter is almost ten years old now, and I wish I could say that I’ve completed my book; it sold well; I have a killer literary agent and a contract for my next book.  That is not the case.  Nearly seven years ago, I gave birth to a baby boy, and he has proven as great a source of inspiration to write and distraction from writing as his older sister is.  As John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

But I have been working as much as I can, reading, taking part in writers groups, classes, and workshops when time permits, and I have written and performed pieces in writers’ shows in Los Angeles (including Expressing Motherhood).  Some of the best classes I’ve taken have been with the writers Samantha Dunn, Amy Friedman, and Hope Edelman at the UCLA Writers Program.  When I am a quivering shell of an LA person who’s been driving too much to write, I drive to LACMA or the Getty or go see performances by the friends I’ve made who are actors and writers.

 

 

I’m happy to report that I am writing this from my first writers’ residency (some people call it a writers colony, but that sounds too much like nudist colony for me).  I’m at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts along with a group of other writers, visual artists, and composers who are in residence for anywhere from one week to one month.  It’s beautiful, quiet, and inspiring, and someone else is doing the cooking and cleaning. My kids are with my husband and my mom back in LA, and we FaceTime once a day.  I wouldn’t have been ready for a residency a few years ago, but I am now.  And I believe that the book that’s nearing completion now is better than the one I would have written several years ago, when I was a younger mother full of piss and vinegar.

Meet Our Graphic Designer

We have been lucky enough to have my former neighbor and friend, Agnete Oernsholt, be our graphic designer. I have used the old barter system with her and in exchange for me watching her daughter, who happens to be my son’s great friend, she designs our artwork.

I have loved popping over to her house through out the years to go over ideas. Agnete is strict about keeping things look a certain way. This is Agnete. She’s a former model and tall and beautiful. So I always feel extra short and stumpy around her but it’s worth it.

Agnete doesn’t always look this way. She did this for halloween. Gorgeous!

Agnete drew inspiration for that look from Dios de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever in LA.Dios de Los Muertos

Her husband, Marcel Langenegger, also hand wrote our logo.

Marcel hand wrote this out of the kindness out of his heart. The dude is a working director. That’s the kind of homespun shop we are.

Here is a look at some of the artwork Agnete has created for us:

a I love this design and tote. It has been met with some criticism, mainly the word fat. I never thought of it as we were saying moms were fat but rather sometimes (cough) a mom can feel fat. Like me right now.

And that is a glimpse into how we create our artwork! A big thanks to Agnete for helping us out all of these years.

Agnete Oernsholt & ExMo Director Lindsay

Our Expressing Motherhood Blog

 

My producing partner and fellow co-creator Jessica Cribbs and myself started “Expressing Motherhood” in January 2008. We have always built this show around the ability to do it  in an amount of time that worked for us since we are both stay at home moms.

People have asked us if we have a blog and we have said no. I started blogging back in ’06 but shut it down in ’08 with the show’s conception. Jessica does have her own blog at Strength of a Rose.  Jessica just finished a three day conference in NYC called BlogHer and we’ve become inspired to open an Expressing Motherhood blog. 

We want to highlight creative moms out there. Former and current Expressing Motherhood performers, people who haven’t been in the show but who are still channeling their creativity post baby. We also will feature resources for the creative mom, like BlogHer, which Jessica will be weighing in on with her thoughts soon.

We are looking to highlight all creativity stemming from moms! Focusing in on how they find time to be creative and what their creative journey has looked like. 

I found the first piece ever performer for our show. Titled, “Mom Jeans.” Written by me and I think it nicely sums up the idea for the show and the intention of our blog.

On the evening I found out I was pregnant, I was drinking a beer and watching a show on birth defects. It was this show that made me put my beer down, head upstairs and take a pregnancy test. Then I curled up into the fetal position and cried for 10 minutes repeating over and over again I’m scared. My husband patted my back the entire time. When I was finished crying I made him finish the rest of my beer and have a couple more in honor of me.

4 months after my son was born I hired a babysitter. I went out shopping to Urban Outfitters. I was reveling in a couple hours of freedom. As the young, feminine man was ringing my purchases up he said, you’re a mom, hmm, you don’t look like a mom. Thanks!

Then I was walking to my car thinking. What does a mom look like? Instantly a picture of a geeky Christmas sweater popped into my head, along with pearl earrings and high waisted jeans that accentuate ones flat ass.

Awesome. He thinks I’m cool, not like that kind of mom.

That’s what has hit me with becoming a mom. This feeling that my desires have had to be put on the back burner. My desires to be cool, hip and yes I know it’s completely un-cool to admit this especially in LA. My greatest desire, my desire to be creative. These are so hard to own once you become a mom.

My need and desire to express myself that’s why I moved to LA. I wanted to become a director. Not a career drop out. AKA mom.

I’m sorry but that’s what I thought of moms at the time.

Maybe it’s because I watched too many movies in the 80’s that involved high powered women. Or maybe it’s some comments that have played upon my insecurities. Comments such as, her career wasn’t going anywhere, she might have just as well had that baby.

There is loss that comes along with becoming a mom. We really have to schedule our time. We have to power house through ideas during nap time or hire a babysitter. And as we all know naps are erratic and irregular and babysitters cost money. And the guilt, I’m not even going to talk about the guilt because my mother in law is busy doing that for me.

The day my son was born I fell instantly in love with him. It was cliché and yet it doesn’t happen that way for all moms. My former feelings of ambivalence and fear were washed away. I was instantly in love.

I was also struck by a thought and that was; I wished I had based all previous decisions on love. Not fear, selfishness, etc.

In an attempt to honor that. I present to you my naptime project,  a play built out of the need and desire to express myself.

My belly shot turned into our first artwork for the program.